Developing a plot is like hanging wallpaper

It’s been a tough day. You look at the newly papered wall with pride, noticing how perfectly aligned each panel is with its adjacencies. The disaster of the upside down sheet is swiftly forgotten as you bask in the glory of all that you have achieved. As your gaze lingers on the wall, the sunlight breaks out from behind the clouds, lighting up the room and illuminating a million dust motes dancing their brownian dance.

It’s then you notice the bubble.

Not to worry, it’s small enough that it can be easily dealt with. You pick up the brush from your workbench and smooth the offending blemish with ease. A quick step back to review and you find that it has gone, though another has risen to it’s left. Without thinking you deploy your brush quickly, extinguishing all evidence of the bubble’s existence before spotting two more, one above and one diagonally down to the right. You brush the top one only to see it pop up again, right beside where you just brushed!

It’s at that point you place your cheek to the wall, using the light that only a moment ago was your friend, to highlight the full lunar surface before you.

With every ounce of your being you master your emotions, slowly step backwards, place the brush back on your workbench

and contemplate closing the curtains.

So, yesterday I was happy with how my plot was developing. I had a good outline with enough detail to allow me to start developing the bio’s of the main characters in the novel. Part of developing a bio involves looking at each character’s goals and motivations, and at the same time plotting their individual story lines. It was during this phase I started to notice the bubbles.

Character X couldn’t possible have done Y because it’s totally out of character.  At the same time A couldn’t have happened because character B hasn’t been told about C yet as it won’t occur for another two chapters.

You start to adjust a character’s bio but then the character becomes less believable. You then adjust the plot but it raises further issues downstream. As a mental exercise it is both really exciting and really frustrating. How can this be happening? I’m the person making it all up for christ sakes!

The good news is I now have a more robust plot and haven’t had to resort to either a dream sequence or an amazing coincidence. The bad news is that I’m only half way through the character bio process and this is not including any new characters I may have to introduce to resolve as yet unforeseen issues. I’m also in the process of pulling together a timeline to double check everything is in order.

I can’t wait until I actually start writing.


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